In a divorce, a court may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other. Alimony (also commonly called “maintenance” or “spousal support”) is a legal obligation that arises from the fact that spouses are legally bound to support one another. Even though the spouses are separating, Kansas law wants to ensure that both parties are protected from severe financial distress.
So how does it work? Simple: the family law court considering your case will look at a number of factors to determine which spouse (if either) needs a temporary financial boost until he or she is able to become self-sufficient.
For decades, it was far more common for women to receive alimony in divorce cases — a simple reflection of the wage gap between the sexes. However, as the professional world has transformed over the years, so too have trends in alimony (not to mention orders for child custody, child support, child visitation, and countless other family law considerations).
Legally speaking, there is no absolute right to spousal support in Kansas. Instead, family law courts look at a number of factors to determine whether alimony should be granted. These factors may include:
Overall, the goal of alimony payments is to help a spouse who has little education, little work experience, and/or steep financial needs get and stay on their feet. Awarded correctly, it will provide just enough support to the party in need that he or she can take steps to become self-supporting within a reasonable time frame. Once that goal is reached, the paying ex-spouse should be able to discontinue alimony payments.
As you can imagine, the spouse in better financial standing often enters into a divorce feeling defensive. After all, they don’t want their hard-earned income to be taken away unnecessarily. Attorney Mark Jeffers fully understands this fear and wants to help ensure that both of you — regardless of whether you’re the spouse with more or less money — reach a fair and fitting long-term solution.
If you and your ex-spouse agree that alimony is appropriate (there may be certain tax advantages to the spouse paying the support), local courts may have guidelines that help determine how much alimony should be awarded in your case. As a family law attorney with more than four decades of experience, Mark is intimately familiar with these guidelines and can help you figure out how much you may be required to pay before you step into the courtroom. Even better, he can act as your advisor, mediator, or litigation depending on how amicable or hostile your situation may be.
If awarded by the court, alimony does not have to be a monthly payment. It could also be a lump sum payment that allows a spouse to support themselves for a period of time. In any case, spousal support is usually limited to an initial term of 121 months (approximately 10 years). The court can decide to extend spousal support beyond the initial term if additional alimony is warranted by the situation.
Unless the parties agree otherwise, alimony can only be modified to reduce the payments. The court cannot reduce past due payments, so if you need to modify your maintenance payments, it is to your advantage to file a motion as soon as possible.
For cases involving spousal support, you will need the assistance of a skilled family law attorney to guide you through the process. Jeffers Law Office will explain your alimony rights and obligations, as well as the likely outcome of taking a spousal support order to court. Attorney Mark Jeffers is well-practiced in finding amicable solutions to issues such as spousal support and would love to help you reach an agreement that works for both you and your ex. Contact Jeffers Law Office today for a free initial consultation on your alimony case.